NSCAD at the Atlantic Film Festival
September 11, 2014

By Ainslie Ross

It’s an exciting time of year for film aficionados as Friday marks the start of the 34th Atlantic Film Festival (AFF).  This year, NSCAD University is well represented with over a dozen films being screened from alumni, faculty and staff.  Films like Andrea Dorfman’s (BFA ’95) Heartbeat, Graeme Patterson’s (BFA ’00) Secret Citadel and Christian Sparkes (BFA ’04) Cast No Shadow are already creating a buzz.

Christian Sparkes, a graduate of NSCAD’s first BFA, Major in Film program, will experience another first when he screens his first feature film Cast No Shadow at this year’s festival.  Cast No Shadow tells the story of Jude Traynor a 13-year-old boy trying to navigate through life and complicated relationships in a rugged seaside town.

The movie poster for Christian Sparkes' Cast No Shadow.
A labour of love and collaboration, Christian was awarded funding for Cast No Shadow by Telefilm Canada’s Micro-budget Production Program.  The program helps emerging film-makers seeking to produce their first feature film through funding, digital-media production and marketing. Candidates for the program are recommended to Telefilm through a network of partnerships from all over the country; Christian was partnered with NSCAD to receive this award.

“I’m really excited and pleased, especially the fact that I got to make this film with NSCAD through the Telefilm micro-budget program,” he said. “I couldn’t picture a better scenario.”

Christian is pleased to be among a strong NSCAD contingent at this year’s festival.  “I think it’s great, the honest results are that if you have this many people being recognized for film from this program then hopefully it’ll give the program a boost and the school a boost.”

Launched in 2002, NSCAD’s BFA (Film) program was the first degree-granting film school east of Montreal.  Since the beginning, the program has allowed students the opportunity to explore film in its many forms. 

NSCAD Professor and alumnus David Clark, whose experimental film 67 is part of this year’s AFF lineup, is proud that the work of NSCAD film makers is being acknowledged. 

“I was here at the beginning of the film program and it’s really good to see that those students in the film program have gone out and climbed that mountain.”

Prof. Clark went on to discuss the origins of NSCAD’s film program saying, “I’ve been very interested in film as an art form and the world of film making here in Atlantic Canada for many, many years.  The film program began out of the realization that there was a very strong bridge that could be drawn from the creative, visual arts traditions that we had at NSCAD and what was then, and now, a real growth in independent and commercial film in the area.”

“Our efforts in starting the film program were to give people creative control over those industries and continue to use film as an expressive medium,” he added.

It’s clear to see, after sitting down with Wayne Carter, Executive Director and Jason Beaudry, Program Director of this year’s Atlantic Film Festival, that they are excited about the films being showcased by the NSCAD community at the 34th AFF but acknowledge that there’s room for further collaborations between both organizations that could help benefit the film community.

“The one thing that we’ve recognized is a gap in the post-secondary world. Because essentially we have Viewfinders which inspires hopefully young kids to get interested in being film makers and then we have the Atlantic Film Festival which is the showcase for our Atlantic Canadian filmmakers.  What we want to start doing is bridging that gap with post-secondary to start introducing more post-secondary events and attractions inside the Atlantic Film Festival,” said Carter.

Beaudry agreed saying, “There’s so much room for development with post-secondary. Even just integrating and making the festival more accessible to NSCAD students, by having an exhibit that crosses over with the festival’s programming that hopefully draws the students in to see that there is so much to offer.”

“I know it’s a very busy time in September, but seeing the merit, interaction and overlap between who they (the students) are, what they’re doing and what the festival is doing is something I think will open up a lot of eyes. Hopefully it will open up a lot of doors for NSCAD students in the future so that we’re not just presenting NSCAD work but we’re also helping to augment it,” he added.

The AFF is proud to have a platform to showcase and cultivate the talent of Atlantic filmmakers.  They hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.

“It is in our best interest to do whatever we can to inspire people to want to make films and keep making films because that’s what keeps the Atlantic film industry vibrant and happening and that in turn keeps us doing what we do. Our primary objective is to champion our Atlantic Canadian content, that’s our primary reason for doing what we do,” said Wayne.

The 34th Atlantic Film Festival runs from September 11-18, 2014. Purchase tickets online at atlanticfilm.com or ticketpro.ca,  call the Ticketpro hotline 1 (888) 311-9090 or drop by in person at the Atlantic Film Festival Box Office, 5657 Spring Garden Road at Park Lane Mall.
Be sure to get your tickets to check out the following films from NSCAD alumni, faculty and staff.

The NSCAD connection at AFF

  • Heartbeat - Andrea Dorfman (BFA ‘95) - Friday, Sept. 12, 7 pm – Park Lane
  • Cast No Shadow - Christian Sparkes (BFA ‘04) - Saturday, Sept. 13,9 pm – Park Lane
  • Saudade – producer Jason Levangie (BFA ’04) - Saturday, Sept. 13, 7:15 pm – Park Lane

Short Films:

State of Mine - Chris Geworsky - Saturday, Sept. 13, 12 noon – Park Lane

Atlantic Shorts 1: Friday, Sept. 12, 4:30 pm – Park Lane
Howard and Jean - Heather Young (BFA ’09)
Wake - Jenna Marks (BFA ’13)

Atlantic Shorts 2: Saturday, Sept. 13, 1:30 pm – Park Lane
Dream Log, February 19, 2014 - Sheila Provazza (Faculty)  

Atlantic Shorts 4: Sunday, Sept. 14, 3 pm – Park Lane
Masculins - Stephanie Young (BFA ’13)
What You Did Before You Were Born - Ariella Pahlke (Faculty)
Strategies of Hope – Ariella Pahlke (Faculty)    

Atlantic Shorts 5: Sunday, Sept. 14, 9:30PM – Park Lane
Lumberjacked - Joel Mac Kenzie (BFA ’08)
Ken Fucks Up: The Trilogy – Ruby Boutilier (BFA 99, Staff)
To Wrestle -- Adam Florian (BFA 2011)

Atlantic Shorts 6: Monday, Sept. 15, 6:30 pm – Park Lane
Secret Citadel - Graeme Patterson (BFA ’03)
67 – David Clark (BFA ’85, Faculty)

AFCOOP 40th Anniversary Spotlight Screening: Wednesday, Sept. 17, 7:30PM – Park Lane

Nova Scotia Tourist Industries (1998) - Jim McSwain (Faculty)
Assembled (2006) – Becka Barker (BFA ’00, Faculty)
Bohemian Town (2004) – Helen Hill
There’s a Flower in My Pedal (2004) – Andrea Dorfman (BFA ’95)

 Tanya Davis stars in Andrea Dorfman's Heartbeat.
Still from Heather Young's Howard and Jean.